Pictus Catfish Species Information

Two Pictus catfish in an aquarium

Many freshwater community tanks will benefit from the Pictus catfish. Its nocturnal lifestyle just need low illumination or hiding spots throughout the day. Although these fish can grow to be a yard long, most Pictus catfish produced in captivity do not reach that size.

Species Overview

Common Name: Pictus catfish, Pictus cat

Scientific Name: Pimelodus pictus

Adult Size: 5 to 6 inches

Life Expectancy: 4 to 8 years

Family Pimelodidae
Origin  South America 
Social  Peaceful 
Tank Level  Bottom dweller 
Minimum Tank Size  50 gallons 
Diet  Omnivore 
Breeding  Egg layer 
Care  Beginner
pH  7.0 to 7.4
Hardness  50 to 100 mg/L
Temperature  74 to 78 F (23 to 26 C)

Origin and Distribution

The Pictus catfish is a nocturnal fish native to South America. They are found in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins but have been kept in aquariums for many generations.

Colors and Markings

The silvery, smooth body of the Pictus catfish is marked by black dots. They lack external scales, just like other catfish species. They have strong spines on their pectoral and dorsal fins, which they employ to taste food deep in the substrate. To prevent being pricked by these spines, handle these fish with extreme caution. Because these fish are prone to being entangled in nets, it is best to handle them in an open container.

If a catfish spine has punctured your palm, clean it gently and do not return it to the tank water. If these wounds are not treated properly, Fish Handler's Disease can develop. With fish-related injuries, there is also the danger of Mycobacteria spp. infection, popularly known as among family members with impaired immune systems, such as small children and the elderly.


Pictus catfish are quiet, nocturnal fish that may be kept alongside a variety of species as long as they are not too aggressive during the day when the Pictus catfish is hidden. You may maintain many Pictus catfish in a tank, but bear in mind that they demand a huge tank.

When choosing tankmates for a tranquil community aquarium, make sure their water quality characteristics, particularly pH, kH, and temperature, are all in agreement.

Pictus Catfish Habitat and Care

A calm, daylight resting location is the most significant feature of the Pictus catfish habitat. Unless you utilize modest, muted lighting in your tank, don't expect to see your Pictus catfish much during the day. Make sure your Pictus catfish has a cave or log to hide in during the day. Make sure you have adequate hiding places for everyone if you have additional Pictus catfish, nocturnal species, or bottom feeders like Plecostomous spp.

Pictus Catfish Diet and Feeding

Because the Pictus catfish is an omnivore, it may quickly adapt to a pelleted diet. Because they are nocturnal fish, make sure you leave some food out when you turn off the tank lights. Your fish may come out to feed with the rest of your tank dwellers in tanks with poor illumination. You are welcome to feed both meaty and vegetarian snacks to your Pictus catfish.

This species will not clean up after your other fish. Although they are bottom feeders and may likely munch on some detritus, it is not their major food, and because to their nocturnal lifestyle, they will often require separate feeding.

Gender Differences

Unfortunately, the Pictus catfish does not have any external sex characteristics. With individuals of the same age and care, the females may be larger than the males.

Breeding the Pictus Catfish

Breeding the Pictus catfish is a difficult task. Many skilled hobbyists have trouble creating an appropriate environment for these fish to deposit their eggs. It is advised that you use a very large tank and that you use a group of fish. Always ensure that all of your new breeding fish are properly quarantined, especially if they come from multiple sources.

To alter the water chemistry and offer a safe habitat for any progeny, it is important to establish a breeding or spawning tank separate from the home tank, as with any indoor aquarium design. Because most indoor aquarium setups are static, spawning is frequently triggered by changes in water temperature or other water chemistry conditions.

More Pet Fish Species

If you are interested in the Pictus catfish, we recommend you check out some of these other fish species: